"L'on y danse, l'on y danse ... and other cliches!" Top 5 Page for this destination Pont D'Avignon - Pont Saint Bénezet Tip by CatherineReichardt

  Pont St Bénézet, Avignon
by CatherineReichardt
  • Pont St Bénézet, Avignon - Avignon
      Pont St Bénézet, Avignon
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Pont St Bénézet, Avignon - Avignon
      Pont St Bénézet, Avignon
    by CatherineReichardt

I think that if I'd travelled to Avignon to see the bridge immortalised in the childhood ditty, I'd have been pretty disappointed, but fortunately there's so much more to this lovely town.

That's not to say that Pont St Bénézet (to give it its official name) is without interest, but - at least for me - much of its charm is in its history rather than its appearance. It's a perfectly nice bridge built across the Rhône to link Avignon to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon ... except that there's rather a lot of it missing. To be precise, following a huge flood in 1668, only four of the original 22 spans are intact. If this sounds odd given that the remaining four arches stretch almost halfway into the river, remember that what you can see is only the southern channel between Avignon and Barthlasse Island which sits in the middle of the Rhone - the bridge would also have extended across the northern channel to Villeneuve, where it presumably connected somewhere near the tower of Philip le Bel in Villeneuve-les-Avignon.

This stretch of the river is notoriously difficult to span, and the final destruction of the bridge was merely the last in a series of collapses which had beset the structure since its completion in 1185.

Several other members have already ably explained who St Bénézet was in the first place, so I won't bore you with repetition.

The trivially minded - such as myself - may be interested to know that the famous first line of the ditty ('Sur le pont d'Avignon, on y danse, on y danse') is a corruption of the original: the present version talks about dancing ON ('sur') the bridge, whereas the original version makes mention of dancing UNDER ('sous') the bridge. These same lightminded people will also probably enjoy the unusual experience of looking at a town map which features a bridge that only stretches part of the way across the river. Not that this will make any difference to the price of eggs, but such is the irrelevant and addictive charm of trivia!

Address: Rue Ferruce
Phone: 04 90 85 60 16
Website: http://www.avignon-tourisme.com/Monuments-et-Patrimoine-culturel/AVIGNON/fiche-PCUPAC084CDT0000096-2.html

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 12, 2012
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Comments (1)

  • Jul 15, 2013 at 2:07 AM

    Hi Catherine. Thanks for sharing your Avignon trip and your valuable tips. I googled the resto "L' Epice and Love and you're right. A good address to remember!

    • Aug 19, 2013 at 6:49 AM

      Hello Catherine. I'm back from Avignon since 2 weeks. Didn't go to the rue des Teinturiers though. It was really very hot and we decided to have lunch close to the Palais de Papes on the Place de l'Horloge. Thanks for the tip about the pass. We also visited the Musée du Petit Palais. Quite interesting in the beginning, but somewhat boring after a while, cause all the paintings are on the same subject. No general airco and we were almost the only visitors. Anyway, Avignon is a beautiful city and is worth the trip. Thanks for sharing.

    • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
      Aug 19, 2013 at 6:55 AM

      And thanks for giving me feedback! I was there in early October, and it was still verging on the uncomfortable for me, so I can only imagine what the heat is like in August!


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